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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Is there a rebel base on Edutopia?

Is there a rebel base on Edutopia?

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I originally explored Edutopia because I was looking for support and resources for my own efforts to make my own science department a more supportive place for my students' creativity, agency, and initiative. The site actually comes up (still) in searches for project based learning, authentic assessment, and makerspaces.

I find an empty wasteland, mostly empty discussion pages dominated by directors who wholly serve the corporate education reform agenda. Where I look for courage and clarity, I find apologists, evasions, excuses, and servility.

My district, my school, my low-income community and my very classroom are under attack. When I stand up to that, for the students I teach, where are all you other dreamers and visionaries?

A fine university's engineering department has an NSF grant to promote makerspaces for communities like mine, but the corporate reform juggernaut has its heel on my district. They won't allow us to sign on, because they know they have to prepare for the PARCC assessments. Will you help us do it anyway? If you actually support empowering children and teachers to create visionary change, you have to stand up and take a position against scary people like Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch, Jeb Bush, Arne Duncan, and David Coleman.

Is there anybody here who wants to offer resources and support to build opposing visions?

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Whitney Hoffman's picture
Whitney Hoffman
Producer LD Podcast, Digital Media Consultant, Author

Hi There! I come to Edutopia, primarily as a parent, and someone who started a podcast on my own about learning and learning disabilities because I had a difficult time finding resources for my kids, and wanted to share those lessons with other parents. (Sometimes the education system seems impenetrable and scary and folks don't know what to do to make sure their kids are ok.)
I am a big fan of people like Gary Stager, who I would argue is not only a constructivist but a primary skeptic of any new program or anything that smacks of the educational industrial complex.
That said, I'm also all in favor of things like makerbot's new academy program that's trying to get 3D printers into schools, because I think getting cutting edge resources into the hands of kids is a way to spark their imaginations and make sure their education world is reflective of the outside world as well.
The biggest problem we're facing locally in PA is not really Common Core, but the overall funding mechanisms tied to property taxes following the housing bubble burst and lower property value assessments, layoffs and more that have rapid eroded our tax base, and hence funding for schools.

Logically, many teachers are looking for money wherever they can find it, and corporations trying to look like good guys by giving money to schools. This then ties corporate interests and schools closer together, based on underlying funding issues.

Do we have to start the conversation less about the testing regime, where I am sure you and I probably agree on more than disagree, or do we have to back it up with how we fund and value schools?

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